Los Agaves has announced the opening of its third location in Goleta in the Camino Real Marketplace. Located at 7024 Market Place Drive in the former home of New Baja Grill, the new Los Agaves Goleta restaurant offers authentic Mexican food in a casual setting.

“We are very excited to open our doors to the Goleta community,” said Carlos Luna, owner of Los Agaves. “We will continue our dedication to making the most fresh and delicious authentic Mexican cuisine and look forward to sharing our unique flavors with our new neighbors.”

Luna opened his first location at 600 North Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s east side in 2008. Los Agaves quickly gained fame with local, taking the title as “Best Mexican Restaurant and Best Salsa in Santa Barbara” in 2013 and 2014. After successful five years of business, Luna opened his second location at 2911 De la Vina Street in June of 2013.

Everything guests enjoy at the Mexican restaurant’s two other locations can be found at the new Goleta location: fresh daily specials, complimentary chips, homemade salsa bar, authentic Mexican favorites, ice-cold cervezas, and more.

Los Agaves offers flavors of Mexico, bringing traditional Mexican culture to every bite of their cuisine. Signature dishes include their Chiles Norteños stuffed with shrimp and Oaxaca cheese, topped with chipotle dressing, served with rice and beans and a house salad; Agaves Enchiladas with fresh halibut and shrimp; the tender Carne Azteca accompanied with stuffed Anaheim peppers, grilled nopalito, and chorizo; among many more favorites.

All locations are open for lunch and dinner daily, Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Catering services available upon request.




Here is a list of local restaurants that have opened this year:

  • October 2014: Aladdin Café, 938 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista; Tri Tip Company, 214 State St.
  • September 2014: Café 154, 4151 Foothill Rd.; Taqueria El Pastorcito, 2009 De la Vina St.; The Outpost at The Goodland Hotel, 5650 Calle Real, Goleta
  • August 2014: Boochies, 113 W. De la Guerra St.; Tacos El Rey, 5 W. Haley St.
  • July 2014: Benchmark Eatery, 1201 State St.; Mesa Verde, 1919 Cliff Dr.; Papa Johns Pizza, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta
  • June 2014: Himalayan Kitchen, 431 State St.; Spudnuts, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista
  • May 2014: C’est Cheese Café, 825 Santa Barbara St.; Caribbean Kitchen, 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Jersey Mike’s, 1213 State St.; The Black Sheep, 26 E. Ortega St.
  • April 2014: Ana’s Taco Bar, 505 State St.; Beach Bowls, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Belcampo Meat Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Crazy Good Bread Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Deli Express, 7398 Calle Real, Goleta; Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.; Enjoy Cupcakes, 38 W. Victoria St.; Fire & Ice Museum Café, 1130 State St.; Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.; Juice Well, 38 W. Victoria St.; Lovin Oven Mediterranean Bakery & Café, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Pasta Shoppe, 38 W. Victoria St.; Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, 38 W. Victoria St.; Santa Monica Seafood, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • March 2014: Betos Subs, 731 De La Guerra Plaza (now closed); Blaze Pizza, 6546 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Firehouse Subs, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista; Jimmy John’s, 909 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Olio Crudo Bar, 11 W. Victoria St.; Piano Gastrolounge, 129 E Anapamu St.
  • February 2014: The Lovin’ Spoonful, 2028 Cliff Dr.
  • January 2014: Barbarians Pizza, 511 State St.; Wok on the Wild Side, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista
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A new Mediterranean restaurant named Aladdin Café opened on October 6th at 938 Embarcadero del Norte in Isla Vista, the former longtime home of Javan’s. Owner Sako Abdulhai tells me the restaurant is run by a family who were raised out here with parents from Syria. “We are serving Mediterranean, blending the regional cuisines into one,” says Abdulhai. “We are using the best of the Lebanese, the best of the Jordanian, the best of all that whole culture and making a menu around that.”

The sandwich menu includes Beef Shawarma (beef, parsley, tahini, pickes), Chicken Shawarma (chicken, lettuce, garlic sauce, pickles), Falafel (falafel, lettuce, tomato, mint, pickles, tahini), Ground Beef Sandwich, Chicken Sandwich and Hamburger/Cheeseburger.

The plate menu includes Shish Taouk (chicken breast, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Shish Kabob (beef, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Kaffa (ground beef, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Mansaf (chicken breast, rice, yogurt, cucumber), Kabsi (lamb, rice, yogurt, cucumber), Combo Plate “Vegetarian” (falafel, malfoof, French fries, salad, baba ghanoush).

Hours are 8 a.m. – midnight weekdays and 8 a.m. – 1 a.m. on weekends. For more information call 770-7288

Aladdin Café staff (l – r): Scott Abdulhai, Steven Abdulhai, Georgia Tahan, Wanda Abdulhai, Fred Abdulhai, Maan Najjar, Owner/Manager Sako Abdulhai, Chef Hathim Aziz

The Restaurant Gal ordered the Shish Taouk plate at Aladdin Café with chicken breast, rice, salad, hummus, served with pita bread. The Restaurant Kid is not old enough for solid food so he missed out on quite a treat.



Captain Fatty’s Craft Brewery is scheduled to open in November at 6483 Calle Real, Unit D, in Goleta.



Reader Don sent me an advertisement for Mandarin Palace at 3955 State Street in the Five Points Shopping Center. The write-up announces that the restaurant is now under new ownership.



Two weeks ago I published a tip from reader Mark who said Del Taco plans to open at Hollister and Turnpike, next to Cody’s Café. The manager of the Turnpike Center tells me this is false.



Reader Brendan tells me that Yellow Belly and Crushcakes Kitchen/Tasting Room have opened at 2611 De La Vina Street, the former home of Tap Thai cuisine which moved to upper State Street. Owners Alex Noormand and Tracy Clark tell me the eatery offers soups, salads and sandwiches. Part of the De la Vina street building will be used by Alex’s sister Shannon Gaston who will share the kitchen and open a Crushcakes wedding cake tasting room. The official name of the business will be “Yellow Belly Tap Sucker Bar And Restaurant.” This is word play on a real bird named “Yellow Belly Sap Sucker.”



A new IRS rule could end, or at least curtail, the practice. NPR reports that the Internal Revenue Service has begun classifying automatic gratuities as service charges that are taxable as regular wages and subject to payroll tax withholding. Currently, automatic gratuities are considered tips, and it’s up to the wait staff to report the amount as income. NPR says that the original rule went into effect in June 2012, but the IRS pushed back enforcement until last January to allow restaurants time to comply. The rule change stipulates that a tip is defined as “something given without compulsion” and that a customer must have an “unrestricted right to determine the amount,” according to the California Restaurant Association’s website.



tri-tipTri Tip Company is a new restaurant bar opening Saturday, October 4th at 11 a.m. in Santa Barbara’s waterfront Funk Zone district. The owners Matt and Ben had an idea to bring something different and new to the area that is getting to be known for great wine, great food and great fun.

“Tri Tip Company is a place for people to come, sit and enjoy some traditional and not so traditional barbecue flavors with some very unique crafted elixirs, shots, punches, cures and tonics for the non-alcoholic drinker to the most discerning palleted cocktail aficionado,” says Matt Jameson-Chrestenson. “The atmosphere is simple, appealing and classy with bench seating and an open patio.”

The food menu offers a variety of traditional Santa Maria style and not so traditional barbecue sandwiches, focusing on tri-tip, chicken, barbecue pork, ribs and unique side dishes. The drink menu offers unique blends of house made concoctions of spirited and non-spirited drinks either in barrels that have been aged for months or on draft. Ice selections and fresh botanical garnish will round the drinks off.

Tri Tip Company is located at 214 State Street. The building has been split into two separate restaurants with Union Ale in the back and Tri Tip Company in the front on State Street. Tri Tip will not have TV’s in its location. Tri Tip Company will be open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner starting at 11 a.m.

The menu includes:

  • BLTrip – tri tip, bacon, guacamole, mayo, tomato and fresh basil leaf, $11
  • 805 Philly – thinly sliced tri tip, bell pepper, onion, pepper jack cheese, $10
  • Gryk – tri tip, cucumber garlic tzatziki, tomato, onion, $11
  • Classic American – tri tip, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, $10
  • Pho’ Dip – tri tip, citrus hoisin, sambal mayo, basil, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, onion, pho broth, $12
  • Santa Maria – tri tip, pico de gallo, smoky bbq, mayo, $10
  • Korean Pork Shoulder – house kimchi, chili mayo, cilantro, lime, $11
  • Deep South – barbecued pork, Carolina mustard sauce, pickles, bbq onions, $10
  • Cubano Panini – sliced pork, ham, dijonaise, garlic pickles, swiss, $12
  • Chickichetta – grilled chicken breast, caper mayo, chimichuri, $11
  • Smoked Chicken Salad – chicken, smoked almonds, jalapeños, apples, red onions, arugula, basil mayo, $12


Pizza Hut’s web site now lists jobs available for a new restaurant coming to 5915A Calle Real, the former home of YoYumYum frozen yogurt. Positions offered include Shift Manager, Team Member, Delivery Driver, General Manager and Assistant Restaurant Manager. This new Pizza Hut location is right down the street from the future Rusty’s Pizza and few blocks away from Papa John‘s. Thanks to reader Cris for the tip!



Today Governor Jerry Brown signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores. A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015. Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target starting next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.



If you can help reader Roger please leave a message in the blog.


I am looking for Devine’s 85% dark chocolate bars but can’t find them anywhere in Santa Barbara.  Could you tell me where I could purchase some?

Thank you,




Readers recently pointed out a listing on LoopNet.com real estate web site for a lease at 1201 Anacapa Street. It reads:

“First time available in 20 years! The iconic Coffee Cat location has been a mainstay of the Santa Barbara Central Business District. This high-profile corner location is suitable for retail, financial services or office users. Located a block off State St, the building serves a high daytime population of office workers, including the County Administration complex, the County Courthouse and the central branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library.”

I called Coffee Cat and was told that they have no plans to move or close. That’s great news. Coffee Cat is one of my favorite places for business meetings downtown.



The now-closed iGrill Korean BBQ at 3132 State Street has a change of ownership sign out front indicating that the space is being taken over by the family that owns Nikka Fish Grill and Nikka Market. I don’t know what their plans are for the space.



22 restaurants are participating in the second-annual Taste of Milpas, set for Saturday, October 4th, noon to 4 p.m. Patrons can stroll up Milpas Street, stopping at each restaurant, where they will be treated to samples at participating venues. This year the event includes a new beer and wine garden, live music, great art, plus demos and tastings from Fresh Market, Fresh and Easy and Tri County Produce. MTD shuttles and pedicabs will help ferry attendees up and down Milpas. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 the day of the event. Child admission is $10. A wine-tasting wristband can be purchased for an additional $15. Tickets can be purchased at the event or online at mcasb.org.

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Reader Mark says Del Taco plans to open at Hollister and Turnpike, next to Cody’s Café. In July I reported that two Del Tacos are coming to town so I believe a Santa Barbara location is also in the works.

Update: This tip is false. Del Taco is not coming to the Turnpike Center.



Reader Primetime let me know that a new store named Rocket Fizz, with the tag line  “soda pop and candy shop,” is coming to 1021 State Street.




Michael Graham, owner of C’est Cheese at 825 Santa Barbara Street, asked me to pass this message to you:

“We just (finally!) finished construction on the cheese shop and have it 100% up and running alongside our new cafe! It’s come together really well and it’s a really fun integration having the cheese shop right next to the cafe since we are able to use the cheese shop’s amazing cheeses & salumi in the cafe and now that we’re roasting our own meats & making our own sauces & jams in our new kitchen we’re able to sell all sorts of house-made products in the cheese shop.”



Jersey Mike’s Subs has leased space at Loreto Plaza Shopping Center, 3325 State Street. Loreto Plaza, at upper State Street and Las Positas, is home to Gelson’s Market and Harry’s Plaza Café.



Here are the top 500 search terms entered into Google that people used to find The Restaurant Guy during September 2014, along with the occurrence.

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If you can help reader Monnie please leave a message in the blog.

I am trying to locate Benny Plambeck who owned a restaurant near the marina in Santa Barbara. Can you help?



PizzaRev is coming to 12 W. De la Guerra Street in Paseo Nuevo, the current home of Kahuna Grill. Last February I reported that Kahuna Grill, which opened in Paseo Nuevo mall in 2008, is actively looking for a tenant to replace them and reported at the time that they were discussions with a good prospect. PizzaRev has locations in California, Minnesota, Texas and Utah. They are expanding soon to Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. The chain opened their first location in Northridge in 2012.

PizzaRev makes their own dough and source fresh ingredients and toppings locally (when possible). Patrons then order at the build-your-own pizza counter. There’s an all-you-can-top option where diners can get a pizza with one of every topping on it (about 30 in total) for under $8.

PizzaRev describes their business this way:

“It’s a deliciously simple and satisfying concept: You call all the shots – You pick out your dough, sauce, cheese and toppings and our “pizza crafters” work with you to make your own pizza right before your eyes! Choose your Crust: Original or gluten-free dough? Each one pressed into a thin canvas from a plump, homemade dough ball. Sauce it Up: Savory organic marinara, a creamy white alfredo, spicy-sweet BBQ or olive oil – or get crazy, mix ‘em up. Top it Off: 30+ artisanal cheeses and fresh ingredients – keep it traditional with pepperoni and ground beef or get fancy with sweet fennel sausage, Kalamata olives, and fresh-picked basil and arugula. Pick as many pizza toppings as you’d like – we don’t charge by the topping – when you’re done crafting you’ll have your own personal pizza masterpiece for under $8! Crispy Perfection in Less than 3 Minutes: Our stone ovens fire-up your masterpiece at 900-degrees! You can watch but can’t touch.”



Simply Pies at 5392 Hollister Avenue in Goleta plans to close in mid-October. Here is a message they asked me to pass on to you:

After 6 years of that 4:30 am wakeup call to bake pies for our customers in Santa Barbara and beyond, we’ve decided to hang up our aprons so that we’re able to spend more time with our families.  It’s been an awesome ride being able to connect with so many local farmers whose produce went into our baked goods and also to meet so many amazing and wonderful people in our community.  We want to thank all of our customers for supporting us along the way and allowing us to bake for their families.  It has been our pleasure!

Our business is currently listed for sale and we are hoping that someone who has a passion for baking, as we do, will take over the reins and continue what we’ve started.   The week of October 14 will be our Customer Appreciation Week with our last day of regular operation being Saturday October 18.  Please stop by to get your take and bake fruit pies and shells for the holidays or to just stock up for the winter.  Our fruit pies and shells will keep in your freezer for up to 6 months!  We’d appreciate your ordering these in advance so we can make sure you get exactly what you want.

With Much Love and Gratitude, The Pie Gals, Hana and Nancy & the Simply Pies Team.



Killer B BBQ and Bar, which opened at 718 State Street in January 2011, has closed their doors. Here is a message to the public posted on their web site:

“Killer B’s is in the process of expanding and this location will be closing as of September 22. We will be relocating to a larger space and our goal is to reopen at our new location by no later than November 1. Please join our Facebook page at facebook.com/killerbbqandbar and follow us on our Instagram at killerbbq718 or download our mobile app to be assured you will have the most up-to-date news on when and where the re-grand opening event will happen.”



Or perhaps I should call him “Accidental Santa’s Little Helper.”

The Restaurant Gal and I are happy to say that our first child was born Tuesday 9/16/14 at 11:19 p.m. James Noble “Jimmy” Dickson is in perfect health and 6 lbs 6.5 oz. He seems to be a very calm and happy baby. Three days in it’s pretty clear that his feathers don’t ruffle easily.

Thank you to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for your terrific and professional service. Special thanks to Dr. Quijano, Dr. Echt, RN’s Lindsay, Kathy, Liz, Irma, Colleen, Julie and many others. You took great care of us. The brand-new maternity wing at Cottage is spacious, comfortable and state-of-the-art. I hear that they are currently testing a room-sterilizing robot that looks like R2D2.

The Restaurant Kid reports that the dining room at Cottage Hospital is great, with farmers’ market-fresh food and the lowest prices in town. He is looking forward to trying it when mom gives the thumbs up to solid food.

Here are some pictures of the potential successor of this column, taken when he was just a few hours old.




On August 15, 2013, I published this message from reader Nancy: “Hi John, We just ate at Lure Fish House at 60 California St in Ventura today, and it has fantastic food, gorgeous decor and ambiance, super friendly staff, great prices, extensive drink menu, excellent coffee, etc. I asked the waitress if they are coming to Santa Barbara, per chance, and she said yes! She seemed to think it will be on upper State near a department store.”

During the following year the story cooled off a bit and I didn’t receive any more updates about the seafood eatery’s voyage to the South Coast. Recently I was able to reach management at Lure Fish House and was told they are in negotiations with La Cumbre Plaza, 121 South Hope Avenue, to take over the space previously occupied by Ruth’s Chris Steak House, immediately next to Macy’s. I’m told that if the deal goes through it will be finalized toward the end of September. Details were few and far between but I was able to find out that if all goes well Lure Fish House will open sometime next year and take over two-thirds of Ruth’s Chris instead of the entire location. I don’t know what business will occupy the remaining third.

Lure Fish House has locations in Ventura, Camarillo and Westlake. Their web site offers this description of the eatery:

‘Lure Fish House was created with the goal of providing you with a Top Tier Seafood Experience featuring fresh and sustainable seafood from trusted sources. Our restaurant strives to provide locally caught seafood, organically grown local produce, and wines from local vineyards whenever possible. We also feature a full bar with specialty cocktails, and an oyster bar serving a variety of fresh items that can vary daily. Lure specializes in Mesquite charbroiled seafood while also providing uniquely prepared selections by our chef. We print our menus daily to reflect availability and guarantee freshness. Our primary goal is to provide you, our guest, a fun and exciting seafood experience. So just remember, if you are looking for a healthy and delicious dish…eat more fish!”




On Saturday, September 27, from 1 – 4 p.m. the second Fork Fest of the year will be held at Chase Palm Park. Fork Fest will bring local eateries together to compete in a friendly fork-off competition to win your vote. The cuisine genre is entirely open-ended to create a competitive nature among vendors and to inspire originality and quality. The event will feature a main wine and beer bar plus a specialty sangria, champagne, and craft beer bar. Tickets cost $48.24 and can be purchased online.

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Reader Matt saw a sign at the downtown Kahuna Grill in Paseo Nuevo advertising a weekly “Big Wednesday” special. If you buy one burger combo you receive another burger combo with a 50% discount. The downtown offer is good every Wednesday night starting at 5 p.m. Reader Cris says the Goleta location in Camino Real Marketplace offers the same deal.




Reader Matt tells me that there is a sign outside of Roy restaurant, 7 West Carrillo Street, indicating that they now serve lunch. Hours are 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call 966-5636 or visit restaurantroy.com.





I was listening to the new  U2 album “Songs of Innocence” and noticed that  the song “California” repeats a chorus with the words “Santa Barbara”. The album is free on iTunes until October 13.

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